Study to shed light on canine lungworm risk

16th January 2024
Industry News

A new “one-of-a-kind” study could support the prevention and treatment of lungworm in dogs, a senior vet has claimed.

Hundreds of owners are set to be offered a free test as part of the project, which is being run by clinicians from nine CVS Group practices across south-west England.

The programme is intended to gather more data on both the number of dogs affected by the disease and which types may be most at risk.


Although it is thought to be more common in southern areas of England, officials hope the work could be extended to other parts of the UK if it proves successful.

Project lead Emily Parr said: “Lungworm is becoming more common in the UK, but unfortunately there is little current information about how many dogs in our local area are affected – and which dogs are at most risk.

“This led our practice colleagues and me to discuss how we could best serve our canine patients. As a result of this vet meeting, the research project was born.

“This regional study will ensure we get a more accurate picture of the prevalence of the disease within our practice canine population.

“This will, in turn, enable us to provide the most appropriate recommendations for dogs under our care.

“If we can offer targeted advice on preventive measures, along with catching the disease early, we’ll be more effective at both preventing and treating this disease.”

Eating larvae

Caused by a parasitic worm that travels through the blood vessels and can affect major organs, dogs contract lungworm by eating larvae within infected snails, slugs or frogs.

Although the disease cannot be directly transmitted from dog to dog, it can spread more rapidly as slugs and snails are infected by larvae passed in faeces from both dogs and foxes, who are believed to play an important role as an intermediate host.

Work on the study, which has been funded through the CVS Group’s clinical research grants programme and is its first multi-site first opinion research project, is taking place at practices in Bristol, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. Around 1,000 participants are expected to be recruited across all of the participating practices.


Owners are being offered the assessment if their dog is presented to undergo a blood test for any other reason, with results being made available within a few hours.

Although options will be discussed with the owners of any dogs who test positive, the group said any treatments required would be charged as normal.

While the sample is being collected, participants are also being asked to complete a survey about their dog’s lifestyle, covering issues including current worming treatment and its frequency, plus reported clinical signs, to assess other potential risk factors.

The survey findings are intended to help identify the issues associated with positive cases, so practices can base their prevention efforts on risk factors.


Dr Parr, an advanced practitioner in small animal medicine and a group regional director, said: “This is a one of a kind research project led by general practitioners in general practice, with the aim of providing meaningful data, relevant to first opinion practice.

“It is part of taking our responsibilities seriously and providing the best care.”


Credit to:  Study to shed light on canine lungworm risk (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2023).  Study to shed light on canine lungworm risk [online]

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